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Rick Scott
(Andrew Innerarity/Reuters)
The Florida Education Association, along with the Police Benevolent Association and other state employee unions, is suing the state over a new law forcing public workers over what they call a 3% pay cut or income tax and Gov. Rick Scott calls a contribution to the state's pension system. The workers named in the suit include not just teachers but nurses, sheriff's deputies, a social worker, and a custodian.

Florida had been the last state in which public employees did not contribute to their pensions; this was according to a state law passed in 1974. However,

The new employee contributions will not be used to shore up Florida's pension system, which is in relatively good shape. Instead, the estimated $1.2 billion savings will help close a $3.5 billion gap in next year's state budget.

Unions are pointing out that Gov. Rick Scott has pushed tax cuts for business despite the state's budget shortfall.

The Broward Teachers Union, which joined the lawsuit, called the Legislature’s labeling the pay cut a retirement contribution “a false premise.”

“Florida’s leaders talk ad nauseam about the need to cut taxes for businesses and the state’s wealthiest residents and yet, when it comes to our police officers, firefighters and teachers, they didn’t even blink an eye when imposing this income tax increase,” said BTU President Pat Santeramo.

Although the level at which Florida employees started out paying into their retirement system is significantly lower than the one that just passed in New Jersey, the effective pay cut coming from increased pension contributions is similar.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is an outrage and they should be sued. (9+ / 0-)

    On top of these draconian cuts, Scott wants 1.3 Billion in tax breaks for businesses.  He has no shame.  I am embarrassed that he's the Governor of my state.

  •  Hey! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gulfgal98, COBALT1928, Matt Z

    Is that Governor Voldemort? I didn't recognize him with the nose!

    All kidding aside, I hope the unions kick his sorry crook ass.

    The Republican Party is now the sworn enemy of the United States of America.

    by TheGreatLeapForward on Fri Jun 24, 2011 at 06:58:09 PM PDT

  •  What are the grounds? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greatdarkspot, COBALT1928

    The hazy description in the original article (not here) indicates that there is a state law that says something, but state legislatures can change state law.  Mindful that both sides presumably have competent attorneys, the Miami article seems to read as thought there was an issue they skipped over mentioning.

    We can have change for the better.

    by phillies on Fri Jun 24, 2011 at 06:58:51 PM PDT

    •  I am guessing it is this (6+ / 0-)

      From my comment below:

      In effect, the governor and legislature are asking state employees and those in the state pension system to pay an additional 3% of their own salaries to fund tax cuts for corporations.

      More tax cuts would be gluttony in a time of starvation. That is not America. That is a nation about to be plundered, and a people laid to waste. - Charles Blow

      by gulfgal98 on Fri Jun 24, 2011 at 07:06:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately... (0+ / 0-)

        ...the state is empowered to spend money however it feels like spending it, either on compensation, tax cuts, or anything else it wants. Unless this change breaks some law or other, even if they forced higher pension contributions specifically to make room for corporate tax cuts it would still be within the state's power. The public employees always have the remedy of the ballot box.

        Those of us in the private sector do not even have that remedy: when our employer decides to cut pay or benefits we just have to take it, or find another job.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Fri Jun 24, 2011 at 11:13:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Law vs. contracts (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phillies

      The argument in the complaint is that the shift in the 1970s from a contributory to noncontributory system created a contract with public employees in FRS. So beginning on p. 15, you'll see the substantive counts focus on the assertion that the changes constitute impairment of contract rights for members of FRS.

  •  Florida employees and teachers (7+ / 0-)

    have not had a pay raise in five years.  To dock them another 3% of their pay to cover budget shortfalls caused by the legislature and governor is an insult on top of injury.

    Florida currently has the lowest cost per resident of state government and the fewest state employees per capita.  This draconian measure is the same as trying to sqeeze blood out of turnips.

    In effect, the governor and legislature are asking state employees and those in the state pension system to pay an additional 3% of their own salaries to fund tax cuts for corporations.

    I hope they win!  Rick Scott is evil personified.

    More tax cuts would be gluttony in a time of starvation. That is not America. That is a nation about to be plundered, and a people laid to waste. - Charles Blow

    by gulfgal98 on Fri Jun 24, 2011 at 07:03:08 PM PDT

  •  Sounds like a "bill of attainder" (at least as (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, COBALT1928

    the GOP is fond of using the term, remember the AIG bonus tax).  Unless the monies go into the pension fund, Scott seems to be singling out state employees to fund tax cuts.

    "Because I am a river to my people."

    by lordcopper on Fri Jun 24, 2011 at 07:27:25 PM PDT

  •  Anyone else see the resemblance between Scott (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    COBALT1928, nosleep4u, Matt Z

    and Fire Marshall Bill?

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile." Hunter S. Thompson

    by Keith930 on Fri Jun 24, 2011 at 08:00:43 PM PDT

  •  So what does Grover Norquist think of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    COBALT1928, eastvan, Matt Z

    all these additional taxes on poor and middle class people? (Not only in FL, but in several other states as well) Have these politicians signed his pledge not to raise taxes?

    Or is he curiously silent on these tax increases? It appears that only taxes on corporations and the rich count against the 'pledge'.

    Hmmm ...

    Conservation! Because the cheapest energy is the energy you don't use.

    by ohiolibrarian on Fri Jun 24, 2011 at 08:13:28 PM PDT

  •  Once upon a time... (6+ / 0-)

    The history in Florida is instructive.  In 1974, Florida was trying to attract people to work for state and local government.  The pension deals were better than most of private industry, even though the pay was not.  Even as the deep 1974-75 recession dawned, the worst since the Great Depression up until that time, there was both a recognition that certain roles were appropriate for government, and that it was necessary to attract good employees and keep them.

    Flash forward to 2011.  Capitalism is in extreme crisis.  Work that Capitalists once considered beneath them--prisons, mercenaries, provision of basic utilities like water and roads, and schools--are now viewed as last ditch profit centers now that the relentless push to drive down wages has destroyed consumer-driven Capitalism.

    Instead of conceding certain spheres to the public domain because they are natural monopolies with no significant competitive aspects, they now see them as sure-fire sources of profit if only they can gain rentier status via crony deals with politicians.

    All public employees are now now longer the needed and beneficial servants of a broader Capitalist economy (teachers training future workers), but competitors preventing Capitalists from grabbing a desperately needed source of profits.

    I'm in my late 50s.  I grew up in a economy where Big Capitalists sold us things we could do without but were able to buy because things were going relatively well in our society.  Small businesses provided many of the essentials, and competition kept prices low.  Government provided the other services at little cost beyond the not insignificant red tape.

    Outsourcing, mergers, financialization and globalization at first enhanced the profitability of Big Capital.  But as Marx predicted, it has resulted in fundamental overcapacity because Big Capital, buying media and politicians, has reduced the bargaining power of labor to nearly zero.  Overcapacity means falling profits, so Capital must devise new strategies to keep the precious return on their capital as high as possible.

    The result is to look at previously disregarded sectors, especially sectors that are "essential" to survival of this generation or the next.  Water, food, roads, sewers, education have all become the targets of Capitalists around the world.  Workers impoverished by the anti-worker politics of bought, neoliberal governments may no longer buy big screen TVs and SUVs on credit, but they must have water and food to survive.  Another avenue are government laws mandating consumption, like the new "Health Insurance Reform," that make it a crime not to buy.

    Public employees are not parasites as so many Randians like to call them.  They are competitors for a new generation of Capitalists that are unable to make a profit from discretionary purchases and must use their political power to steal public property and functions to maintain their opulent lifestyles and power.

  •  Can we not just send the crook Scott to (0+ / 0-)

    one of his privatized prisons?

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

    Please know that I accept you and yours with no need for explanation of any kind, unless you are unkind or violent.

    by Translator on Sat Jun 25, 2011 at 03:46:12 AM PDT

  •  I've been watching (0+ / 0-)

    how other states have been handling their renegade republican governors/legislators, because even though he's quieter and sneakier about it, Michigan's slick rick snyder is headed in this same direction.

    And goinsouth is right:  Capitalists have extracted all of the profits that they can in areas they already control, that's why they are now turning to takeover of public services as a way to maintain profitability.

    Privatizing formerly public entities such as public utilities, police forces, prisons, and schools under the false premise that doing so will "save" taxpayer money or somehow "improve" outcomes is provably false.  All privatization does is insert yet another layer of administration into services that already have adequate leadership.  The end result:  the same (if not higher) costs, but lower quality services provided by the minimum-wage, part-time workers they've hired to replace the loyal public workers who take personal pride in a job done well.

    Are the people so forgetful that they can't remember why these services are PUBLIC in the first place?  Because there should be no profit motive in encouraging higher incarceration rates, and there should be no profit motive involved in educating our children.  Govt regulations were put in place to PROTECT consumers from the predatory practices of big business.  Have we all forgotten that?

    I agree with another commenter that I think we are about to see a blue tidal wave of backlash in 2012, not just in Florida, but in Texas, Wisconsin, New Jersey, AND Michigan.

    One person can make a difference--and everyone should try. --John F. Kennedy

    by GypsyT on Sat Jun 25, 2011 at 04:50:14 AM PDT

  •  Is it just me, (0+ / 0-)

    ...or does Rick Scott look a lot like Peter Garrett, former lead singer for the Aussie band Midnight Oil?

    "You put a monkey in a tuxedo, it's still a monkey" -Kellybee's Uncle Leon, From Chicago

    by Kellybee on Sat Jun 25, 2011 at 01:56:32 PM PDT

  •  Why does Rick Scott (0+ / 0-)

    always look like an insane turtle gasping for air?

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